History of Golf - Part One The Beginnings

By George WhiteJune 26, 2002, 4:00 pm
Since the beginning of time, man has preoccupied himself with a stick and a rock, making his drudgery into a game.
 
In the earliest of times he swung the stick at the rock, propelling it towards some predetermined destination. This, it can be said, was the precursor of golf. Unfortunately, it also is the precursor to just about all the sports that require a ball and some object to propel it.
 
What country invented golf? Many countries did. If there were sticks and objects that could be hurtled along, then there was golf. Though the name didnt come into being until some time in the 15th century, there were many, many games of early man that could be called an ancestor to golf.
 
Nearly every area around the world has some claim to the origination of golf. Scotland, of course, has its claim. But so do China, Rome, England, France, Holland, Belgium, even Laos. Every country has a game consisting of sticks and balls, and every country is correct in its assumption that it invented the game. But there is no one country where golf actually began.

History - 1862 golf photoSome say that it was first played by shepherds tending their flocks, passing the time by hitting rocks to targets with their shafts. Games would have developed between competing shepherds, playing across links land and back to their villages.
 
One theory is that fishermen on the east coast of Scotland invented the game to amuse themselves as they returned home from their boats.
 
Other games which included a ball, a stick and some form of a target included paganicain Rome, a Celtic game called shinty, and khi in Laos. The Chinese claim a form of golf ' chui wan (beating a ball) ' was played as early as 300 BC. The Roman scribe Catullas describes the game of pangea ' an ancient forerunner of modern hockey and hurling.
 
Roman emperors in Caesars empire apparently played the relaxing game of paganica using a bent stick to drive a soft, hair-filled or feather-stuffed ball. The use of hair-filled balls can be traced to the spread of the Roman empire, and similar balls were later used in Europe. Over the next five centuries, the game developed on several continents.
 
Shepherds implements were definitely used in games to hit rocks, we know. In 1338, German shepherds were granted special dispensation to mark their territories by striking a pebble with their crooks. The distance covered was the extent of their grazing rights, a serious use of the rules of the game.
 
The Irish played a very rough game called camanachd and the English played a game, cambuca, in the 1300s. The goal of cambuca is unclear and it may have even been a competition between enemies with one attacking and one defending.
 
The late Dutch golf historian Steven J. H. van Hengel, acknowledged as one of the foremost experts of the origins of golf, believes that golf was probably a mixture of the implements used in chole and the rules of jeu de mail, both games imported into Holland.
 
Chole, which still survives in Belgium and under the name of soule in Northern France, is a halfway stage between hockey and golf. A cemetery gate, a door, a big rock or other large object ' often as far distant as 12 miles away ' could serve as the goal. One player or side would get three strokes at the object, after which the opponent or opponents would get to whack the object in the opposite direction (dechole).
The origin of the name golf is believed to be the Dutch word of 'colf,' which means 'club.' In the medieval ages, golf was also known as spel metten colve, which literally meant 'game with clubs.'
 
Van Hengel traced colf back to Dec. 26, 1297, in the town of Loenen aan de Vecht in northern Holland. On that day, the local townsfolk played four holes of the game to commemorate the relieving of the Kronenburg Castle exactly one year before. The fact that colf was chosen to mark the occasion is proof that the game was already popular by that time, says Van Hengel, although he couldnt say for how long. Colfer, or golfers, were a common sight in contemporary Dutch artworks, suggesting their popularity then.
 
'Colf' continued until the early 18th century when it suddenly fell out of fashion, to be replaced in Holland by kolf, a considerably shorter game played on a course only 25 yards in length. The ball was large, about the size of a baseball, and struck to a post set at either end of the field. The object was to knock the ball from one end to the other, hit the post, and leave the ball as near to the surrounding wall as possible.
 
Van Hengels theory of colf eventually giving way to golf is supported by the frequent trading links between Holland and Scotland from medieval time. The game of colf is believed to have traveled from east to west, across the North Sea.
 
The first recorded reference to chole, another derivative of hockey, was made in 1353. And from this same period of time, around 1350, the stick-and-ball game of kofspel was played in Holland. The Dutch called a similar game kolven. From this came kolf, or in England, gowf.

History - 1872 golf photoHet kolven was played in the Holland and the Low Countries. It was played in open spaces and the player had to drive a ball a good distance, aiming at goal ' a door or a tree, perhaps. Het kolven was played in the American colonies as early as 1657.
 
The earliest traces of golf being played are said to date back to 1340, where in a sketch from a stained glass window ' the Great East Window ' in the east wing of the Gloucester Cathedral, England, scenes of the Battle of Crecy in France showed a man apparently preparing to strike a ball in a golf-like manner. It was probably not actually golf, but the old English game of cambuca or the Flemish game of chole. This was more than 100 years earlier than the first written Scottish golf record.
 
The French staked their claim with a game called jeu de mail.' Jeu de mail was played since the 16th century; also a game called mail a la chicane, another forerunner.
 
In 15th century London, pall mall was a game that derived its name from an early playing place of another game. This contest consisted of knocking a ball from one pre-determined place to another, sometimes as far as neighboring villages. Many believe that golf emerged when pall mall was completely ousted from the towns onto the nearest common land, or land that was not owned by any individual.
 
Certainly, kolf, as it was known in the Netherlands, or goff, as it was referred to in England, was a pastime enjoyed by 15th century kings and commoners. All early fore-runners, though, resembled croquet or billiards or cricket more than golf. Unfortunately for those countries who lay claim to originating the sport, they all lacked just one thing. And it was left to the Scots to make the final refinement.

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Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'

By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 3:35 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following his victory two weeks ago at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Kevin Na said his second triumph on the PGA Tour was the most rewarding of his career.

Although he declined to go into details as to why the victory was so gratifying at The Greenbrier, as he completed his practice round on Tuesday at the Open Championship, Na shed some light on how difficult the last few years have been.

“I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, 'I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, 'He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.' I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Na, who made headlines for his struggles to begin his backswing when he found himself in the lead at the 2012 Players Championship, said he asked other players who had gone through similar bouts with the game’s most dreaded ailment how they were able to get through it.

“It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”

The payoff, however, has steadily arrived this season. Na said he’d been confident with his game this season following a runner-up showing at the Genesis Open and a fourth-place finish at the Fort Worth Invitational, and he felt he was close to a breakthrough. But being able to finish a tournament like he did at The Greenbrier, where he won by five strokes, was particularly rewarding.

“All good now,” he smiled. “I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”

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Koepka still has chip on his chiseled shoulder

By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 3:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brooks Koepka prepared more for this Open than last year's.

He picked up his clubs three times.

That’s three more than last summer, when the only shots he hit between the summer Opens was during a commercial shoot for Michelob Ultra at TPC Sawgrass. He still tied for sixth at The Open a month later.

This time, Koepka kept his commitment to play the Travelers, then hit balls three times between the final round in Hartford and this past Sunday, when he first arrived here at Carnoustie.

Not that he was concerned, of course.

Koepka’s been playing golf for nearly 20 years. He wasn’t about to forget to how to swing a club after a few weeks off.

“It was pretty much the same thing,” he said Tuesday, during his pre-tournament news conference. “I shared it with one of my best friends, my family, and it was pretty much the same routine. It was fun. We enjoyed it. But I’m excited to get back inside the ropes and start playing again. I think you need to enjoy it any time you win and really embrace it and think about what you’ve done.”

At Shinnecock Hills, Koepka became the first player in nearly 30 years to repeat as U.S. Open champion – a major title that helped him shed his undeserved reputation as just another 20-something talent who relies solely on his awesome power. In fact, he takes immense pride in his improved short game and putting inside 8 feet.

“I can take advantage of long golf courses,” he said, “but I enjoy plotting my way around probably - more than the bombers’ golf courses - where you’ve got to think, be cautious sometimes, and fire at the center of the greens. You’ve got to be very disciplined, and that’s the kind of golf I enjoy.”

Which is why Koepka once again fancies his chances here on the type of links that helped launch his career.

Koepka was out of options domestically after he failed to reach the final stage of Q-School in 2012. So he packed his bags and headed overseas, going on a tear on the European Challenge Tour (Europe’s equivalent of the Web.com circuit) and earning four titles, including one here in Scotland. That experience was the most fun and beneficial part of his career, when he learned to win, be self-sufficient and play in different conditions.


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“There’s certain steps, and I embraced it,” Koepka said. “I think that’s where a lot of guys go wrong. You are where you are, and you have to make the best of it instead of just putting your head down and being like, 'Well, I should be on the PGA Tour.' Well, guess what? You’re not. So you’ve got to suck it up wherever you are, make the best of it, and keep plugging away and trying to win everything you can because, eventually, if you’re good enough, you will get out here.”

Koepka has proved that he’s plenty good enough, of course: He’s a combined 20 under in the majors since the beginning of 2017, the best of any player during that span. But he still searches long and hard for a chip to put on his chiseled shoulder.

In his presser after winning at Shinnecock, Koepka said that he sometimes feels disrespected and forgotten, at least compared to his more-ballyhooed peers. It didn’t necessarily bother him – he prefers to stay out of the spotlight anyway, eschewing a media tour after each of his Open titles – but it clearly tweaked him enough for him to admit it publicly.

That feeling didn’t subside after he went back to back at the Open, either. On U.S. Open Sunday, ESPN’s Instagram page didn’t showcase a victorious Koepka, but rather a video of New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. dunking a basketball.

“He’s like 6-foot-2. He’s got hops – we all know that – and he’s got hands. So what’s impressive about that?” Koepka said. “But I always try to find something where I feel like I’m the underdog and put that little chip on my shoulder. Even if you’re No. 1, you’ve got to find a way to keep going and keep that little chip on.

“I think I’ve done a good job of that. I need to continue doing that, because once you’re satisfied, you’re only going to go downhill. You try to find something to get better and better, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Now 28, Koepka has a goal of how many majors he’d like to win before his career is over, but he wasn’t about to share it.

Still, he was adamant about one thing: “Right now I’m focused on winning. That’s the only thing I’ve got in my mind. Second place just isn’t good enough. I finished second a lot, and I’m just tired of it. Once you win, it kind of propels you. You have this mindset where you just want to keep winning. It breeds confidence, but you want to have that feeling of gratification: I finally did this. How cool is this?”

So cool that Koepka can’t wait to win another one.

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Despite results, Thomas loves links golf

By Jay CoffinJuly 17, 2018, 2:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Despite poor results in two previous Open Championships, Justin Thomas contends that he has what it takes to be a good links player. In fact, he believes that he is a good links player.

Two years ago at Royal Troon, Thomas shot 77 in the second round to tie for 53rd place. He was on the wrong side of the draw that week that essentially eliminated anyone from contention who played late Friday afternoon.

Last year at Royal Birkdale, Thomas made a quintuple-bogey 9 on the par-4 sixth hole in the second round and missed the cut by two shots.


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I feel like I’ve played more than two Opens, but I haven’t had any success here,” Thomas said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I feel like I am a good links player, although I don’t really have the results to show.”

Although he didn’t mention it as a reason for success this week, Thomas is a much different player now than he was two years ago, having ascended to the No. 1 position in the world for a few weeks and now resting comfortably in the second spot.

He also believes a high golf IQ, and the ability to shape different shots into and with the wind are something that will help him in The Open over the next 20 years.

“I truly enjoy the creativity,” Thomas said. “It presents a lot of different strategies, how you want to play it, if you want to be aggressive, if you want to be conservative, if you want to attack some holes, wait on certain winds, whatever it might be. It definitely causes you to think.

“With it being as firm as it is, it definitely adds a whole other variable to it.”

@CallawayGolf via @goodwalkspoiled on Twitter

Watch: Phil flops ball over guy's head from 2 feet away

By Nick MentaJuly 17, 2018, 2:46 pm

Sure, you trust Phil Mickelson to hit a flop shot. But would you trust him to hit one over your head from 2 feet away?

Evidently, this guy did, and his faith was rewarded.

Callaway Golf sent out this Twitter video on Tuesday taken by Mickelson's bother and caddie, Tim, ahead of this week's Open at Carnoustie:

If you look closely, you can see the guy holding his ... breath.

Yeah, that's it. His breath.